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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: Shotime in Boston

Two of three AL East rivals lost, as Ohtani dazzled at Fenway and the Blue Jays fell in Cleveland.

Boston Red Sox vs Los Angeles Angels Photo by Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

Welcome to another edition of the Rivalry Roundup! The Yankees were idle on Thursday outside of Madison Square Garden cameos, so nothing to note there, and all five of their top rivals faced different opponents. The latter fact means no overlapping games and a lot to recap, so let’s skip most of the preamble and review how those contenders fared.

Boston Red Sox (10-16) vs. Los Angeles Angels (17-10)

Shohei Ohtani turned Fenway Park into his personal playground on Thursday afternoon. The Boston hitters couldn’t do much of anything against the defending MVP, who twirled seven shutout innings of six-hit ball, walking none and striking out 11 hitters. Free agent addition Trevor Story is already going through a miserable start to his Boston career, and Ohtani only made it worse, striking him out four times.

Rich Hill did his best to match Ohtani with five scoreless innings, but the 42-year-old lefty only has so much in his arm these days. Tanner Houck piggybacked with Hill and did not hold up his end of the bargain. After a scoreless sixth, the Angels broke the tie in the seventh on a Jared Walsh two-run homer that curled around the Pesky Pole, and they really lit into Houck in the eighth, knocking him out with five runs (including an RBI hit from Ohtani). The 8-0 loss put Boston 8.5 games behind the Yankees in the AL East, tied with the victorious Orioles in last place. Keep knocking ‘em further back, in my opinion!

Toronto Blue Jays (16-11) vs. Cleveland Guardians (12-13)

After salvaging the final game of their disappointing home series against the Yankees, the Blue Jays looked to be out to a good start in Cleveland when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. belted a two-run shot in the first off Aaron Civale. From there, however, the Guardians right-hander got it together, tossing up zeroes over the next four innings. During that time, Cleveland took advantage of a familiar foe, former Minnesota ace José Berríos. Rookie Steven Kwan cracked his first career homer to tie it up in the third, and after scratching out another run to take the lead, Cleveland scored three in the fifth with some well-placed hits down the left-field line.

A two-run double by Zack Collins off Civale and a solo shot by Alejandro Kirk against Nick Sandlin cut the margin to a single run, but veteran Bryan Shaw and closer Emmanuel Clase made the lead hold up. Bo Bichette struck out to end it and cement Cleveland’s 6-5 win.

Minnesota Twins (15-11) vs. Baltimore Orioles (10-16)

Well, so much for the streaking Twins rolling through Baltimore. As expected, they won the first two of their four-game set to move to 11-1 in their last 12 games, but after a 9-4 loss yesterday, they dropped another one to the O’s on Thursday to settle for a disappointing split.

The Twins did have a lead at the halfway point, as Byron Buxton hit a truly majestic two-run shot in the fifth off Spenser Watkins that sailed over both bullpens and 452 feet away. That put Minnesota in front, 3-2, but as it turned out, the O’s also brought their power swings to Camden Yards. Not even the new expanded dimensions could hold them down, as each of Ryan Mountcastle, Cedric Mullins, Jorge Mateo, and Austin Hays went deep to put Baltimore in front. The five solo shots (Mountcastle hit two) were all the offense that the O’s needed, as they won, 5-3.

Even more concerning for the Twins: Carlos Correa had to leave the game after getting plunked twice on his hands. Postgame X-rays revealed a possible fracture on his right middle finger, and he’ll undergo more testing today.

Houston Astros (15-11) vs. Detroit Tigers (8-16)

Thursday turned into a bit of a minor pitchers’ duel in Houston, as José Urquidy fired six shutout innings and despite giving up solo homers to Jose Altuve and Jeremy Peña, Tarik Skubal fared better than expected. Outside of those dingers, the 25-year-old southpaw allowed just four hits and no other runs, striking out nine in six innings of his own. Houston handed the 2-0 lead to closer Ryan Pressly, who returned from the IL by blowing the save on a two-run homer by Jeimer Candelario.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, their All-Star reliever wasn’t up to the task on Thursday, either. Gregory Soto failed to record an out, as Yordan Alvarez singled, Yuli Gurriel walked to move pinch-runner Chas McCormick into scoring position, and the ever-underrated Kyle Tucker sent Houston fans home happy with a walk-off single.

Tampa Bay Rays (16-10) vs. Seattle Mariners (12-14)

Undaunted by former division rival Robbie Ray, the Rays tagged the 2021 AL Cy Young Award winner with a loss that was keyed by a big fourth inning. Manuel Margot led off with a single, stole second, and scored on a base hit by DH Harold Ramirez to put the Rays on the board. After an Isaac Paredes single, Mike Zunino delivered his second big homer in three nights.

Seattle did fight back to make it a one-run game thanks to the first homers of the season from offseason acquisitions Jesse Winker and Adam Frazier. But the Mariners were held hitless after the Frazier homer, and Tampa Bay won, 4-3, gaining half a game on the Yankees.